A few points about Steve Walker’s measles/autism study

30 Apr

Michael Fitzpatrick is a general practitioner and autism parent in the U.K. who has been countering misinformation for over a decade. His books include Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion and MMR and Autism: What Parents Need to Know. Dr. Fitzpatrick offered to take Andrew Wakefield’s recent challenge for a public debate. Mr. Wakefield has not responded.

One report of a replication of key finding by Andrew Wakefield’s team was presented at an IMFAR conference in 2006but never published. Even though it has not been published, and has in fact failed to replicate, that work by Steve Walker is often cited by Mr. Wakefield’s supporters.

Below are a series of points Dr. Fitzpatrick has collected in regards to the Walker study.

Matt Carey

‘It [the Children’s Immunisation Centre – offering single measles vaccines] argues that the MMR vaccine can cause autism, saying: ‘In 2009 a Dr Walker in the USA studied 275 autistic children and found in a large percentage of cases that these children had the live measles virus in their gut after vaccination with the triple MMR’.Sunday Times, 21 April 2013.

1. In 2006 Dr Stephen Walker presented a poster at the Montreal IMFAR meeting claiming to have identified measles virus in intestinal biopsies of children with autism. These preliminary, provisional, unconfirmed, non-peer-reviewed findings in an uncontrolled study (which does not mention MMR) were widely reported – and enthusiastically acclaimed by Dr Andrew Wakefield.

2. In a subsequent statement issued by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, Walker denied that he had shown any link between measles virus and autism.http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2006/Wake_Forest_Researcher_Warns_Against_Making_Connection_Between_Presence_of_Measles_Virus_and_Autism.htm

3. The Walker study has never been published.

4. The Walker study was dismissed as evidence in the 2009 Omnibus Autism Proceedings in the USA after a detailed critique by expert witnesses.http://lizditz.typepad.com/i_speak_of_dreams/2011/01/the-daily-mail-uk-continuing-sorry-contribution-to-fear-uncertainty-and-doubt-vaccine-fears.html

5. The Walker study is not included in a recent list of ‘28 studies from around the world that support Dr Wakefield’s work’ (though none of these validate his claim of a link between MMR and autism).


6. Though reports claimed that the Walker study had ‘replicated’ the work of Wakefield’s Dublin collaborator John O’Leary published in 2002, this work has been thoroughly discredited, most comprehensively by Professor Stephen Bustin (and is no longer even claimed by Wakefield in his support).
(Stephen A Bustin, Why There Is No Link Between Measles Virus and Autism, DOI: 10.5772/52844)

7. A co-author on the 2006 Walker study (and on his recent, unrelated, 2013 publication) is Dr Arthur Krigsman, a long-standing colleague and supporter of Dr Wakefield (and collaborator in his current Autism Media Channel initiative). http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0058058

Observations on Dr Krigsman by the ‘Special Masters’ in the Omnibus Autism Proceedings 2009:

‘After studying the extensive evidence in this case for many months, I am convinced that the reports and advice given to the Cedillos by Dr Krigsman and some other physicians, advising the Cedillos that there is a causal connection between Michelle’s MMR vaccination and her chronic conditions have been very wrong. Unfortunately, the Cedillos have been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment.’

Dr Krigsman appeared as both expert witness and as ‘treating physician’ to Michelle Cedillo and Colten Snyder. The special masters found that his credentials were ‘scant’ and noted that though he claimed to be ‘assistant clinical professor’ at New York University he had never taught there. His four publications were reduced on inquiry to one. It emerged that he left New York following disciplinary action at his former hospital and was fined $5,000 on arrival in Texas for misrepresenting his registration status.
The special masters were not impressed by Dr Krigsman’s performance as an expert witness. Hastings commented that in the Cedillo case he ‘did not find Dr Krigsman to be an expert upon whom I could reasonably rely for sound opinion and judgment’.

It was in relation to his personal testimony as Michelle’s doctor that Hastings found Dr Krigsman to be most ‘unpersuasive’ and of ‘doubtful credibility’. He was shocked to discover that he had ‘presented an opinion concerning Michelle’s case either without examining Michelle’s medical records at all, or after badly misreading these records’. He noted that Dr Krigsman had ‘diagnosed Michelle with “inflammatory bowel disease” in July of 2003, before he had even met and examined her’. Hastings further noted that ‘Dr Krigsman seems highly inclined to diagnose the presence of gastrointestinal inflammation on the basis of almost any chronic gastrointestinal symptoms’. He concluded that Dr Krigsman had advanced a ‘grossly mistaken understanding of Michelle’s gastrointestinal symptoms’ and that ‘a simple reading of Michelle’s medical records demonstrates that Dr Krigsman’s understanding was clearly wrong’. Michelle endured five upper gastrointestinal endoscopies and three lower gastrointestinal endoscopies, none of which in the opinion of the respondent’s experts, revealed inflammatory bowel disease.

Michael Fitzpatrick 23 April 2013

12 Responses to “A few points about Steve Walker’s measles/autism study”

  1. neverdefiled April 30, 2013 at 13:53 #

    I’m an adult and was traumatised by the combined endoscopy and colonoscopy I endured just over a year ago. I’m an adult who understood what was going on and why, and I still shake and feel sick if I give it any thought.

    To do that repeatedly, and unnecessarily, to Michelle deserves an assault charge. They aren’t benign procedures, they run serious risks with potentially fatal side effects.

    He should be locked up.

    • dingo199 August 25, 2013 at 00:56 #

      One of the autistic kids investigated by the Royal Free hospital in Wakefield/Walker Smith’s unit suffered multiple bowel perforations and nearly died in the ITU, suffering permanent sequelae. He received compensation (coincidentally about the same amount Wakefield made from his own role in the MMR litigation).

      • Kingfillins April 14, 2014 at 12:51 #

        They had consent for the procedures. Evidence of this consent was repeatedly offered at the hearings into Wakfields case, but was ignored and not recognised each time it was presented. Deers research cannot be trusted. In fact he committed fraud himself in the process of his investigation. It was a witch hunt, and it delayed the research to gut conditions of autistic children and also the recognition of the gut brain connection.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 14, 2014 at 21:01 #

        “and it delayed the research to gut conditions of autistic children and also the recognition of the gut brain connection.”

        You want to know what has delayed research in the GI conditions in autistics? Andrew Wakefield. By tying GI diseases in autistics to the MMR vaccine (incorrect and unethical and fraudulent), Mr. Wakefield put off many from investigating GI disease.

        Had Mr. Wakefield focused on GI disease and not the MMR, he could have done something good. Instead he just did bad.

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  3. Kingfillins April 14, 2014 at 12:44 #

    “”5. The Walker study is not included in a recent list of ‘28 studies from around the world that support Dr Wakefield’s work’ (though none of these validate his claim of a link between MMR and autism).”

    IT WAS NEVER WAKEFIELD S CLAME THAT MMR “CAUSED” AUTISM. His team reported a potential link and they responsibly suggested further study. This was not a conclusion. His paper was looking at gut conditions of Autistic children.On one hand you deride misinformation yet perpetuate myths yourself.

    So why do you make the point of bringing up such a bogus point that had very little to do with Wakefield’s research?

    So has Wakefield’s actual work on the gut been replicated???
    Thats his teams actual work, not some bogus “claim” that others have misreported and exaggerated beyond reality.

    And why has it taken so so long for gut disorders in Autistic children to be taken seriously?

    Now that science is finally catching up with the direct gut brain connection….

    PS The lancet is published by Elsevier … Elsevier is directly tied to GlaxoSmithKlein … Do a blog on that conflict of interest and massive fraud… Wakefields paper was not withdrawn on scientific grounds.

    • Chris April 14, 2014 at 20:39 #


      Then why did he make that claim at his video press conference announcing his now retracted paper? Why does he continue to be the darling of several anti-vaccine groups?

      ” His team reported a potential link and they responsibly suggested further study.”

      Then why did he refuse to do those follow up studies when the Royal Free offered him more time and money? Why did he just leave? And what about the results of the fellow at the Royal Free who actually did those studies:

      Lancet 1999;353 (9169):2026-9
      Autism and Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine: No Epidemiological Evidence for a Causal Association.

      BMJ 2002; 324(7334):393-6
      Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Bowel Problems or Developmental Regression in Children with Autism: Population Study.

      “So has Wakefield’s actual work on the gut been replicated???”

      No. Even by someone who was once paid by SafeMinds to show thimerosal caused autistic mice (except no one knows what autistic mice look like, and the actual results showed what commonly happens to stressed over crowded mice):

      PLoS ONE 2008; 3(9): e3140 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003140
      Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study

      “Wakefields paper was not withdrawn on scientific grounds.”

      It was withdrawn due to several violations on the use of children in human health studies, fraud, undisclosed conflicts of interest (he was paid by lawyers to do it) and generally really bad science.

      Now here is a question for you: The MMR vaccine was approved in the USA in 1971. So it had been in use for about two decades in a much larger country than the UK before Wakefield came on to the scene. What documentation shows there was a steep uptick of autism in the USA during the 1970s and 1980s due to the use of the MMR vaccine?

      Please post the documentation dated before 1990 that there was a sharp increase in autism in the USA due to the use of the MMR. Because it is obvious that if there was a connection it would show up in a country that larger and using the vaccine longer than the UK.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 14, 2014 at 20:52 #


      I compiled a few such statements here.

      From his patent application we have these two statements:

      “It has now also been shown that use of the MMR vaccine (which is taken to include live attentuated measles vaccine virus, measles virus, mumps vaccine virus and rubella vaccine virus, and wild strains of the aforementioned viruses) results in ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, chronic colitis and pervasive developmental disorder including autism (RBD), in some infants.”


      I have also found that regressive behavioral disorder (RBD) in children is associated with measles, mumps and rubella vaccination.

      Here’s a statement from his sworn testimony before a congressional hearing

      So finally, in summary, we have an environmental insult in perhaps a genetically susceptible child. The problem is that if you go to Sweden now, autism affects over 1.2 percent of the pediatric population. So if there is a genetic background, it is clearly widely distributed within the population. We believe that in many children, clearly, the subset of autistics, it leads to gut infection and damage; that leads to an ingress, an impaired metabolism, degradation of these chemicals from the gut which then get through and impact upon the brain.

      From the video for his press conference for the Lancet paper

      My opinion, again, is that the monovalent, the single vaccines, measles, mumps and rubella, are likely in this context to be safer than the polyvalent vaccine.


      Again, this was very contentious and you would not get consensus from all members of the group on this, but that is my feeling, that the, the risk of this particular syndrome developing is related to the combined vaccine, the MMR, rather than the single vaccines.

      In speaking about public health officials, those involved with vaccine policy and autism epidemiology:

      Those responsible for investigating and dealing with this epidemic have failed. Among the reasons for this failure is the fact that they are faced with the prospect that they themselves may be responsible for the epidemic.

      From an interview discussing a later paper than the 1998 Lancet article:

      Our new paper is not anti-vaccine. It is about the safest way in which to deliver these vaccines to children in order to protect them against acute infectious disease and against the long-term adverse reactions that I believe we are now seeing

      From a BBC program in 2002

      WAKEFIELD: .. these children received not one dose but three doses of the MMR vaccine, and what we see in many of these children is a double hit phenomenon. They regress after the first dose and then they regress further after the second dose. This child did not receive his first MMR vaccine until he was 4 years 3 months of age. He then deteriorated into autism, a disintegrative disorder. He then received his second dose at 9 years of age and disintegrated catastrophically. He became incontinent of faeces and urine and he lost all his residual skills. This is not coincidence.

      The idea that Mr. Wakefield never said MMR causes autism is nonsense. He says it directly, he says it indirectly.

      So, perhaps you would be so kind as to apologize for “perpetuating a myth” as you accuse me of doing. One of us has actually done the research on this subject, as I’ve shown above.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) April 14, 2014 at 20:58 #

      So has Wakefield’s actual work on the gut been replicated???
      Thats his teams actual work, not some bogus “claim” that others have misreported and exaggerated beyond reality.

      Really? Who has replicated his work claiming that there is a persistent measles infection in the guts of autistics?

      Did you notice the large study out of Sweden this year which showed that the GI diseases found in autistics is not inflammatory in nature? Mr. Wakefield’s thesis in multiple studies is that (a) the GI disease is unique to autistics and (b) inflammatory. It isn’t and it isn’t.

      No, I haven’t heard this particular angle to the conspiracy theories surrounding Mr. Wakefield. Tell me, then, why did GSK publish the paper in the first place? Especially considering that even if it were correct, even if it were ethically performed, it was weak and had no place in such a high profile/high impact journal.

  4. Meredith Katzenberger March 10, 2019 at 02:05 #

    I’m so thankful I found your site. I think I heard you interviewed on Voices for Vaccines’ podcast. I found your site in a different way though. An anti-vax friend posted a list of studies from PubMed that suggested a link between autism and vaccines. I started googling the authors to see their credentials. Thank you for debunking a lot of authors and explaining why they aren’t reliable.


  1. Andrew Wakefield on MMR vaccine - Page 7 - INGunOwners - May 3, 2013

    […] Connection Between Presence of Measles Virus and Autism – Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center A few points about Steve Walker That link is the complete debunking of the Daily Mail article that to this day is making rounds in […]

  2. Quora - March 6, 2015

    How do I convince my anti-vaccine ex-wife that vaccinating our children is necessary?

    That (non)study doesn’t prove nor substantiate a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. https://leftbrainrightbrain.co.uk/2013/04/30/a-few-points-about-steve-walkers-measlesautism-study/

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